In the third volume in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, two more years have passed and the unlikely but sharp-minded couple are now married. A friend they met during their brief time in Palestine four years before, an amateur archaeologist named Dorothy Ruskin, returns to England to raise money for her projects and gives Mary Russell a beautiful carved wooden box from Renaissance Italy. Inside is a sheet of papyrus -- partly in Greek, partly in Hebrew, partly in Aramaic -- that purports to have been written by Mary of Magdala, an apostle of Jesus, shortly before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Within a day, Ruskin is killed by a car, and Russell and Holmes suspect foul play. As always, the mystery itself is not all that gripping, but the writing is delightful, and King has extra fun with a supporting cast that includes Mycroft Holmes, Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade (the son of the original Lestrade from the 1880s), a cameo by Lord Peter Wimsey, and even a passing mention of an English lit scholar with a passion for Anglo-Saxon poetry and runes whom Mary encounters at Oxford, by the name of Tolkien.
This report prepared by David Loftus